The Eighth Air Force attack against the ball bearing factories at Schweinfurt, Germany, on October 14, 1943, became known as "Black Thursday.”
After friendly fighters turned back at the German border, the bomber formations fought a running battle alone against the Luftwaffe. The bomber crews faced heavy flak over the target and then had to fight their way back across central Europe.
Of the 291 bombers that departed on the mission, 60 were shot down, resulting in some 600 Airmen lost over enemy territory. Of the bombers that returned, 17 crashed in England or were scrapped, and 121 needed repairs—and many of these aircraft brought back wounded and dead crewmen.
Because of this raid and the shocking losses in the previous two months, USAAF leaders suspended strikes against targets beyond the range of fighter escort.
(Additional pictures coming soon)
Lead bomber crew for the 303rd Bomb Group pictured before leaving on the October 14, 1943, strike against Schweinfurt—this crew made it back.
The first bombs hitting the ball-bearing plants at Schweinfurt on October 14, 1943—bomb craters from the first raid in August are visible in the upper right.
Nazi banner captured at Schweinfurt, Germany, by the 42nd Rainbow Division, US Army, in April 1945. The Rainbow Division’s commander sent the flag to the Eighth Air Force in recognition of the heavy losses it suffered in the 1943 raids against Schweinfurt.
The Rainbow has avenged your losses at Schweinfurt in the summer of 1943. This flag was captured by the 22nd Inf 42nd (Rainbow Div) on April 12, 1945. Harry J. Collins, Maj Gen.
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